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Renowned Finnish film and video artist Eija-Liisa Ahtila has been inspired by an eclectic collection of writers and artists when making her multi-screen, multi-perspectival meditations on animal and man – these include German biologist and philosopher Jakob Johann von Uexküll, Giorgio Agamben, Ingmar Bergman, the Dogme 95 collective, as well as Giotto and Fra Angelico. Absorbed in the modern enquiries of post-humanism and intra-subjectivity, Ahtila nonetheless follows a conceptual pathway that winds back through the dark corners of medieval Gnosticism and Enlightenment-era Immanentism, where the subject, far from suffering deconstruction, is upheld as an agent of divinity. 

‘Parallel Worlds’, organized by Moderna Museet in Stockholm and Kiasma in Helsinki, is a comprehensive retrospective of Ahtila’s film and video installations, drawings and sculptures, all of which inhabit a distinctively un-Pop, Scandinavian umwelt. In an interview in the exhibition’s catalogue, Ahtila ponders: ‘Can a spruce be a mimetic creature? For me, this carries the question: “What do we really see?” Do we simply see what we want to see or where, at what point of looking, do we meet the spruce, if at all?’ This extrapolation on autopoiesis is reified in the filmmaker’s consistent use of multiple screens, a formal device that directs (or divides) the eye from a tightly packed, informatic subjectivity into a landscape of non-human and non-narrative multiplicities.



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